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Sven Smeets, Citroen - Q&A
9 April 2011
Sven, was there ever any doubt about Citroen Racing taking part in Rally Jordan?
We kept a very close eye on the situation in the region in liaison with the PSA Group management, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the FIA and the Rally Jordan organisers. Our priority was the safety of our personnel and our suppliers. Only when we'd obtained the right guarantees did we confirm our participation in the event.
What changes did you have to make to the logistics?
The major logistical difficulty of Rally Jordan is transporting the equipment we use in Europe. Our trucks are too big to be freighted by air so we have to use sea transport. The initial plan was to go through the Suez canal and land in Aqaba in the south of Jordan. But the situation in Egypt made the trip through the canal difficult, so we decided to land in Tartous in Syria. Given the recent events there this solution was no longer possible. Together with Ford, Northone Sport, Michelin and a few private teams we chartered a boat for Haïfa, in Israel. All the equipment should arrive at the Dead Sea on Monday night.
From a sporting point of view, how do you see Rally Jordan unfolding?
The main specificity of this rally is the number of kilometres on Thursday (Day 1), a total of seventy. This means that it'll be impossible for a driver starting from fifth or sixth place to open up a big gap thanks to sweeping. Normally speaking, the classification of the first leg should be similar to the starting order. Even so, if a driver loses one or two minutes the first day his chances of victory are still intact. Friday will be important but not vital in determining the outcome because of the number of kilometres on Saturday.
A new, harder-wearing Michelin tyre will also appear in this rally. We haven't yet fully evaluated its endurance, and its characteristics could modify the way in which the drivers can push depending on road conditions.
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